James Hetfield: Why I Don't Do Side Projects

"Metallica's pretty much my side project."

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James Hetfield: Why I Don't Do Side Projects

Frontman James Hetfield was asked by WRIF on why he hasn't done any side projects outside Metallica throughout the years, to which he replied (via Blabbermouth):

"Metallica's pretty much my side project. I get to do whatever I want in Metallica. [Laughs]

"There's not really a need for it. I write things that make me feel good, and if they end up in Metallica, then that's even better.

"Sometimes they don't. Sometimes they're like a 'Nothing Else Matters' kind of thing, and they're trying to be hidden: 'Don't listen to that.'

"But, no, there's really no need for that. Or time - there's no time for that either. [Laughs]"

Back in 2015, James told So What about the same topic:

"I think Metallica, for Lars and myself - I'll speak mainly for me, but I know he feels the same way - Metallica is our side project too.

"It's our main project, it's our side project, it's our 24/7 project. It doesn't mean that I don't want to try other things, like voiceover work, a book, photography, art, cars... you name it. I want it to add to me, not subtract from Metallica.

"Before, I might have come to the table with a negative attitude around side projects: 'You're doing that, which means you're not into this band as much as I am or Lars is.' I'm tired of that feeling and I'm tired of that resentment.

"At the end of the day, I know Lars and I are the guides of this. We steer Metallica most of the time, and the other two guys are very happy that that is the way it is. And we're all equal.

"We're all contributing in our way. But I think Lars and I are very comfortable being the spearheads of it. And we are in a great spot right now, because everyone knows the band is prioritized above everything, but everyone also feels free to to explore other things."

46 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Yeah but:
    So basically, James is eluding to the fact that if you don't have 2 side projects and a winery that you may be able to get an album out pretty quick. Cough cough Maynard
    Hasn't Maynard been pretty clear that he's been waiting for music from the rest of the band to add his vocals to. In that last interview I saw here he seemed rather fed up with it.
    You play in bands, different genres and its decent. Ill always be into my rock music but nothing wrong with a change. You cant always sing about deeeath and dyiiing and Die and deeeath forever. I love Metallica but let loose James mate. 
    I think Metallica basically has every resource to do whatever they want; movies, documentaries... and James gets to control basically all of it. I've never heard of him and Lars not being on the same page. Metallica is such a huge b(r)and that I imagine a village makes up the whole team. He's plenty busy.
    I didn't know it was James and Lars at the driving end, I thought Kirk had more to do with the writing process, esp after hearing about all the riffs he lost that everyone was talking about. I think I like them more now..
    Just a couple days ago there was an article on here where Kirk said there is not a single note he contributed to the last album. 
    I have the feeling those riffs were either very bad or just not accepted by Papa Het and Lars...
    To be fair Maynard has been dicking around and doing his own thing for years. Puscifer, making wine, writing a book.
    Would love to hear a country of atleast an acoustic album from him, he enjoys playing this more than metal.
    Metalocalypse, South Park, Waylon Jennings Tribute and more....no extra time....riigghhtt.
    Maybe need to learn the difference between side projects and guest appearances...
    Obviously these were guest appearances. I guess my point being that there's time when he says he has none. I get it though, Metallica seems to always be busy doing something (which is a good thing), but its always cool to hear him play different stuff. Like his performances at Cure 4 Cancer shows...an album like that would be fine by me.
    All these guest appearances were done at different times hell the south park thing was 18 years ago. Plus he does have a family now who he wants to spend time with any chance he gets, plus those guest appearances were hardly time consuming south park for example the song was already written and they just wanted his vocals, he probably came and finished it in less than an hour.
    What was the Waylon Jennings tribute? I missed that one.
    I think after Waylon had passsed, a bunch of musicians paid tribute to him and James did a rendition of "Don't You Think This Outlaw Bit Done Got Out of Hand" which was pretty badass.
    Yeah it was awesome. I believe he did all the instruments on it too.
    Yeah that's correct. I remember reading about that when it first came out. I loved the live version they did on tv. Can't remember what it was exactly but the videos on YouTube.
    Not really a side project, but if you remember WAYYY back in those 2 "Year and a 1/2 in the life of" of Metallica - James is at some club playing "just the blues"  - anyone remember that?  
    Didnt he have a side project (or at least, just joined another band) during the 80s where he played drums? 
    because he makes enough money from metallica and wants to have a private life as well (what a shock!)